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Democracy fights back.

The British police most likely succeeded in averting the mass murder of thousands of airline passengers. By Expressen's political editor PM Nilsson.

The terrorists planned to blow up at least nine airplanes on their way to the United States. Instead there was air traffic chaos in Europe, a small problem compared to what could have happened.

The events in England demonstrate two things which unfortunately are not yet self-evident in this debate: that terrorism is a threat that concerns all Europeans and that there are methods to crush it.

It's a serious mistake to think islamic-fascistic terrorism is a phenomenon which has its origins abroad. The threats that were manifested just over one year ago in the London Underground and which were on their way to being manifested again have in fact both their ideological and physical roots in the West and in particular in Europe.

Most of the people who have carried out or planned acts of terrorism are European. The perpetrators of 911 were students in Hamburg and Belgium. The shoe bomber was an Englishman. The murderer of Theo van Gogh was a Dutchman and a good student of IT. The underground bombers from last year were from Leeds. And the chief ideologist himself Osama bin Laden comes from a family where almost everyone has studied at a western university and donated large sums to Oxford and Harvard.

When an American research centre listed 373 islamic terrorists there were twice as many French citizens as there were Saudis, and more Brits than Sudanese, Yemenites, Lebanese, and Libyans combined.

The ideology of islamic fascism also has much more in common with Nazism than with islam. It's the same worship of violence and purity, the same dream of returning to a lost beginning, the same fever pitch antisemitism and hate of western society. And just like the Nazis of the 1930s recruited their foot soldiers at the universities, the islamic fascists lure students today and they appeal to the same feeling of twisted insult.

Once you understand the European roots it's a lot easier to see why democracies can and must fight back. The struggle against terrorism is not a struggle against the 'muslims' but instead a struggle against an idea and a movement Europeans have seen before.

After 1945 both Nazism and the extremist communists have been fought successfully by democracies. Left extremists were a real threat to West Germany, but it was possible to crush them and no one can claim the west German democracy was damaged. On the contrary: it was of ultimate importance that the democratic state defend its basic principles.

But it was a tightrope walk then as now. Democracy must remain faithful to its ideals even when fighting its worst enemies. Principles such as innocent until proven guilty, being informed what one is accused of, having the ability to appeal, and no prolonged incarceration without trial. Guantanamo is an example of what must absolutely never be allowed to happen.

It is possible to crush terrorism. Europeans have done it before and they will do it again. The English police today 10 August 2006 won one of many victories for freedom.

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